Thursday, May 13, 2010

mmmmm meatballs

There's nothing like a good meatball recipe. Here's mine. Add some chilli or other spices to the meatballs - and enough orange zest to taste. Perfect over linguine.

Linda's MMMMM Meatballs:
2 slices of bread soaked in just enough milk to cover them. Leave 15 minutes until soft.
500g veal mince, or lean beef mince
one onion, finely diced
one clove of garlic, finely diced
1 tbsp of fresh sage, finely chopped - or parsley if preferred
grated zest of half an orange
salt and pepper

Squeeze excess milk from bread and place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well with your hands till combined. Form into small balls and refrigerate 30 minutes or more.

One onion, finely diced
One stick celery, finely diced
One carrot, peeled and finely diced
Two cloves garlic, finely diced
One tin of tomatoes, chopped
One tablespoon tomato paste
Water as needed (around a cup)

Saute the onion, celery and carrot over a low heat in a little olive oil for at least 15 minutes, stirring regularly. All vegetables should be soft, but not browned. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add tomato paste and stir for one minute. Then add tinned tomatoes and enough water to make a good sauce consistency. Bring to the boil, then lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes to an hour, adding more water if it thickens too much. When the sauce seems rich and ready, drop in the meatballs, making sure they don't crowd each other, pop a lid on and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Serve over pasta or just with steamed vegies.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

slowly does it

I know - another post! I can't believe that I'm so prolific on my other blog, yet so crappy on this one. I'll try!

I was always an impatient cook. I hurridly chopped the ingredients, threw them in the pan, gave it a cursory stir and always seemed to throw in the next ingredient before the current one was ready to receive it. Now, I'm trying to slow down. I'm taking cooking as my form of meditation for the day. I can't sit in the lotus position and manage alternate nostril breathing, so, instead, I'll take my peace when it comes.

Now, slowly dicing the onion into small, even squares is my form of bliss. Then I'll chop carrots to a similar size and a stick of celery will join in the gang. The basic miropoix is the base for virtually any meal - but it takes time. I slowly heat the oil, not too much, and sometimes throw in a little butter for flavour. Then I'll add all the ingredients and stir them so they're well-coated in the oil and then let them sweat over a low heat for at least 10 to 15 minutes. I always used to rush this step and the onion was never cooked before I added the sauce and that was it, the onions stopped cooking and were always hard and nasty in the sauce.

When this is done, I'll remove them from a pan and then start to brown my meat. If I'm making a casserole I ask my butcher to chop up blade or chuck steak into 1 inch cubes. I dry them off with a paper towel {that's a Julia Child hint and oh boy, does it make for a lovely, caramelised piece of meat} then I'll toss it in some seasoned flour {just some salt and pepper added for flavour}.

I add some more oil, let it heat and then add the meat a little at a time. I don't like to crowd it or it'll sweat and leach juices and then stew rather than caramelise. Remember, this is meditation time, so what's the hurry. I only add enough to cover the bottom of the pan with enough space in between each piece of meat to fit in my tongs and flip the meat easily.

When all the meat's browned it's time for my favourite bit - deglazing the pan. Not deglazing the pan is a sin - all the caramelised goodness from the vegies and the meats sit on the bottom of the pan and they need wine or stock to release it. Pour in about 1/2 cup of whatever liquid you're cooking with - either wine or stock - and stir it over a low heat so that all the yummy bits from the bottom of the pan rise up and mingle with the liquid. When that's done return the meats and vegies to the pot, stir and add your remaining ingredients.

Deglazing's also the perfect way to make a sauce after you've cooked a steak. Add some button, saute some finely diced french shallots, then throw on some red wine and bring to a simmer. A length of fresh time and lashings of freshly ground pepper will make it sublime.

Bon appetit.